24 December 2015
Crazy Christmas Laws
To celebrate Christmas, Slater and Gordon present you with seven of our favourite crazy Christmas laws of the past and present.
The Mince Pie Myth
The myth is that it’s illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day. But the story goes beyond a ban of simply eating this festive treat on the 25th. Back in 1657, Oliver Cromwell decided to ban all Christmas celebrations. Talk about a Scrooge!
Seeing Christmas as an excuse for drunkenness and gluttony, he banned festive celebrations and gave orders to set up market stalls and continue with business as usual on Christmas Day. As you can imagine, not everyone was keen to work at Christmas and so the Puritan Government struggled to enforce this law.
Puritans Ban Christmas
Cromwell was not the only Puritan to ban Christmas. In 1659, the American Puritans of Massachusetts made it illegal to celebrate Christmas.
The law was changed so that those who celebrated Christmas were punished with a five shilling fine.
Christmas Lights in Maine
Massachusetts is not the only place in America the Grinch might like to visit.
In Maine, you must take your Christmas lights down by 14 January. Any later and you will receive a fine.
America might be giving off a whiff of ‘bah humbug’ in our top seven crazy Christmas laws, but at least Europe is happy to spread some Christmas cheer.
Some European countries have it written in the law that employers must give their workers a bonus the size of one month’s salary.
The First Day of Christmas
Back in the UK, you should beware to leave that partridge in the pear tree! The Game Act 1603 made it an offence to kill game on Christmas Day.
While you couldn’t use crossbows, guns or dogs, landowners and their servants were allowed to trap game on Christmas Day using nets, provided it was on their own land.
The First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Day of Christmas
In fact, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 made it illegal to take or kill a bird on Christmas Day.
We’d best hope that all those birds that “my true love gave to me” in the Twelve Days of Christmas were purchased (killed or taken) in advance of Christmas Day.
Five Gold Rings
The Pawnbrokers Act 1787 made it illegal for pawnbrokers to open on Christmas Day.
So, if you were to receive five gold rings for Christmas then you would have to wait before you pawn them for money.
What did you think of these crazy Christmas laws? Have you heard of any we’ve missed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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